Psychosocial support intervention for HIV-affected families in Haiti: Implications for programs and policies for orphans and vulnerable children

Mary C. Smith Fawzi, Eddy Eustache, Catherine Oswald, Ermaze Louis, Pamela J. Surkan, Fiona Scanlan, Sarah Hook, Anna Mancuso, Joia S. Mukherjee

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47 Scopus citations


Given the increased access of antiretroviral therapy (ART) throughout the developing world, what was once a terminal illness is now a chronic disease for those receiving treatment. This requires a paradigmatic shift in service provision for those affected by HIV/AIDS in low-resource settings. Although there is a need for psychosocial support interventions for HIV-affected youth and their caregivers, to date there has been limited empirical evidence on the effectiveness of curriculum-based psychosocial support groups in HIV-affected families in low-income countries. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility and assess the preliminary effectiveness of a psychosocial support group intervention for HIV-affected youth and their caregivers in central Haiti. The study was conducted at six Partners In Health-affiliated sites between February 2006 and September 2008 and included quantitative as well as qualitative methods. HIV-affected youth (. n = 168) and their caregivers (. n = 130) completed a baseline structured questionnaire prior to participation in a psychosocial support group intervention. Ninety-five percent of families completed the intervention and a follow-up questionnaire. Psychological symptoms, psychosocial functioning, social support, and HIV-related stigma at baseline were compared with outcomes one year later. Qualitative methods were also used to assess the participants' perspectives of the intervention. Comparing pre- and post-intervention assessment, youth affected by HIV experienced decreased psychological symptoms as well as improved psychosocial functioning and social support. Caregivers (95% HIV-positive) demonstrated a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, improved social support, and decreased HIV-related stigma. Although further study is needed to assess effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial, corroborative findings from qualitative data reflected reduced psychological distress, less social isolation and greater hope for the future for families affected by HIV/AIDS following the intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1494-1503
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Caregiver
  • Families
  • HIV
  • Haiti
  • Intervention
  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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